tv Defense Secretary Discusses Military Aid to Ukraine CSPAN May 24, 2022 1:11am-1:41am EDT
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losses in the u.s. economy. watch "washington journal" live at 7:00 eastern on c-span or on c-span now, our free mobile app. join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, and tweets. defense secretary lloyd austin said there was no change to the one china policy when asked about president biden's comments about defending taiwan.
sec. austin: good afternoon, everybody. we had a highly constructive morning at the second meeting of the ukraine defense contact group. i am delighted we were joined virtually by more than 40 ministers and chiefs of defense. i am glad the contact group once again got to speak with ukraine's ministry of defense, my good friend. we are also joined by the deputy commander in chief of ukraine's armed forces and by ukraine's defense intelligence representative. i am also proud and pleased to see several new countries attended today's meeting of the group, including austria, bosnia-herzegovina, columbia, ireland, and kosovo. we are delighted to have them aboard and we hope to continue expanding this important gathering of allies and partners.
russia's unprovoked and cruel invasion has galvanized countries from around the world. bravery, skill, and the grit of the ukrainian people have inspired people everywhere. we have made important progress since the contact group was established after the ram stein summit. today with the minister and his team, we have gained a sharper sense of ukraine's policy environments and the situation on the battlefield. we also heard very welcome announcements about even more security assistance for ukraine. that includes 20 countries that announced new security assistance packages. many countries are donating critically needed artillery ammunition, coastal defense systems, and tanks and other armored vehicles. others came forward with new commitments for training ukraine's forces and sustaining its military systems.
there are too many countries to properly thank everyone here. let me mention a few standouts. i'm especially grateful to denmark, which announced it will provide a harpoon launcher and missiles to help ukraine defend its coast. i would also like to thank the czech republic for its substantial support, including a recent donation of attack helicopters, tanks, and rocket systems. today several countries announced new donations of critically needed artillery systems and ammunition, including italy, greece, norway, and poland. let me also recognize the united kingdom for its leading role in helping coordinate security assistance and for the significant quantities that continue to flow into ukraine. i am deeply grateful to these countries and all of the countries that have stood up
today. in the short four weeks since the contact group convened, the momentum of donations and deliveries has been outstanding. after today's discussions, i am pleased to report that we are intensifying our efforts and moving forward we will continue to deepen our coordination and cooperation so ukraine can sustain and strengthen its battlefield operations. our combined efforts will also fortify and modernize ukraine's armed forces to help them determine future russian aggression. we had several important conversations today. about the latest battlefield conditions, about progress towards meeting ukraine's priority requirements, about the conflicting security assistance on the ground, and about how to help ukraine maintain and sustain the self-defense
capabilities we have all supplied. everyone here understands the stakes of this war and they stretch far beyond europe. russia's aggression is an affront to the rules-based international order and a challenge to free people everywhere. let me announce an item for your calendars and we will convene the contact group for our third meeting next month and gather in person this time. on june 15, on the margins of the nato defense in brussels. of course it will not be a nato event. we want to keep up the tempo of these meetings and i wanted to use my travel to europe to ensure we are building on our momentum. my team will have more details on this in the days ahead.
it has been a good day and encouraging one. we fully understand what ukraine is up against in the contact group shows how much we can get done when when so many nations of goodwill come together. we will continue supporting ukraine as it defends its citizens, its sovereignty, and its democracy. before i take your questions i wanted to say a few words about someone who everybody in this room knows well, my friend john kirby. john and i go way back. he has always been the kind of teammate you want at your side. since the earliest days of this administration i've been fortunate to have his judgment, his insights, and his leadership. john has been a trusted
counselor and a clear and eloquent voice for this department, this mission, and its values. he has always understood how central a free and independent press is to our democracy. even when the questions were tough, even when the findings were uncomfortable, when john stood behind his podium, he always committed to truth, trust, and transparency. john, thank you for your extraordinary service. i know you are not going far, but we wish you fair winds and following seas. thanks for everything you have done. i will turn it over to the chairman for his remarks and then we will be glad to take your questions. gen. milley: thank you secretary and i would like to publicly thank john for his professionalism and expertise over the years.
he has done tremendous service for those of us in uniform. good morning. i want to echo secretary austin statement from this morning. this meeting was a great opportunity to coordinate our efforts to provide timely and effective military aid to ukraine. we had 47 countries participate this morning. that is significant. although i regularly speak with all of my nato chiefs of defense counterparts, some very often, some almost daily, this group is unique assembly of forces that span the globe, enhance our collective capability. i just returned from nato where i met with my nato counterparts and this meeting expands on that effort. together our task is to provide sustained support. i speak to the general every few days several times a week. i want to emphasize the u.s. joint force from our role is to continue support to the ukrainian military as long as directed and we have the capability to do so.
all of this is important because the ukrainian military people are fighting not only for their country but fighting for principles as the secretary mentioned about the rules-based international order that affects all of us. the secretary mentioned the progress we made at ram stein a month ago was a follow-on to today, was a predecessor to today. united states military comprises one of the key components of u.s. national power, diplomatic, economic, informational, and military. our task is to protect the homeland and stand ready to defeat the enemies of our country. we stand ready as part of a whole government approach to the united states and alliance
approach and partner effort you saw this morning. last fall the united states military had about 78,000 army/navy, air force. in a few short months we have bolstered that by 30%. this morning we have roughly 102,000 u.s. troops in the area of operations in very many countries. at sea we have over 15,000 sailors in the mediterranean and the baltics, up from six surface combatants in the fall. in the air we have 12 fighter squadrons and two combat aviation brigades. on the ground we have two corps, two divisions, and six combat teams. these capabilities in the united states augment the tremendous security assistance donated by other countries and together we have put forth to the ukrainian war effort. the ukrainian capacities to defend their homeland is directly tied to the quantity
and quality of assistance they are receiving. lastly, let me say the secretary has all of us in this building focused on managing risks in the potential for escalation. we are watching this very closely and we have been able to reopen communications at the military to military level, and i made a call to my russian counterpart. i do not share the contents and detail of that discussion, but that it was done was important and purposeful and worthwhile. we remain resolved and united in our assistance to ukraine. we remain committed to manage escalation and we will continue the support as long as we are directed. sec. austin: we will now go ahead and take some questions. reporter: thank you. mr. secretary, you mentioned today you've got a sharper sense
of ukraine's requirements. can you talk about what the ukrainian officials have told you they needed, and one of the things they say they need our mlrs. is the u.s. prepared to send those major systems to ukraine, and if that is true, are there any limits on how they can be used in crimea or the donbas. general milley, the army said it will take about 18 months to replenish some of what they have sent, particularly javelins. what is the risk for the u.s. military as it goes forward on weapon systems and other things that may be now going to ukraine that the u.s. needs. as you send more complex weapons into ukraine, is there a need to send u.s. special forces or other trainers into ukraine to help train them, or other locations, and if not what are the consequences?
sec. austin: i think that was about 12 questions. listen. i will get to the questions you had up top. let me reiterate i believe today was a very successful meeting. you heard the chairman talk about the numbers of countries that were involved. you heard me speak about the number and types of donations that 20 countries came forward with today to announce. that is real progress, which is needed for real problems. we are very satisfied we had a very productive meeting, but we recognize this is a work in progress and we will need to continue to remain focused on this going forward.
in terms of what their needs are, they are pretty much the same as they were the last time we talked. that is long-range fires, armor, in terms of tanks and armored personnel carriers, uav capability. that has not changed. the nature of the fight as you've heard us describe a number of times is the fight is shaped by artillery. we have seen serious exchanges of artillery fire over the last several weeks. i do not want to get ahead of where we are in the process of resourcing our requirements. i would like for you to know we are not only talking to the ukrainians today, but every day.
as the chairman pointed out, he is talking to his counterpart routinely. i talk to the minister at least once a week and probably more than that in most weeks. we will continue to refine their requirements. we will engage the international community to make sure we can get as much capability against those requirements as possible. i do not want to discuss specific systems in this war. gen. milley: you asked about the replenishment. the u.s. military as an entity, all of the various munitions packages we have come the secretary has us looking at those closely to make sure we do not drop below levels that become high-risk.
right now the risk to ourselves is relatively low. it is not something we will get overly excited about. we have a category called critical munitions. we are solid in all of those. javelins are not in that category. your small arms, your antitank weapons, some of the javelins, as opposed to other smart munitions. we are ok. we are doing ok and our risk is being managed appropriately. with respect to the training, we are doing training in several different countries. along with nato and partner countries we are training ukrainians. i will not go into all of the details. not in ukraine but outside of ukraine. united states does not have any trainers in ukraine. some of the things that may have been in the media, those are planning efforts underway at a relatively low level have not yet made it into the secretary or myself for refinement or courses of action in what is needed.
at the end of the day any reintroduction of u.s. forces into the ukraine would require presidential decisions. we are a ways away from anything like that. we are still developing courses of action and none of that has been presented yet to the secretary. reporter: thank you. i want to read a question president biden got on his trip in asia. he was asked, you did not want to get involved in the ukrainian conflict. are you willing to get involved militarily to defend taiwan if it comes to that, and his answer was yes, that is the commitment we made. the reason i want to read the question is it indicates the u.s. is prepared to do more to defend taiwan than what the u.s. is already doing to help ukraine defend against the invasion from russia, which it has provided a tremendous amount of equipment and support.
president biden said the u.s. is willing to do more to help taiwan. my question is is the u.s. making a commitment to send troops to defend taiwan in the event of an invasion by china? sec. austin: as the president said, our one china policy has not changed. he reiterated that policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the taiwan strait. he also highlighted our commitment under the taiwan relations act to help provide taiwan the means to defend itself. our policy has not changed. reporter: i think the relations act is the u.s. is committed to ensure taiwan has resources to defend itself but does not require u.s. military intervention. is the u.s. making a commitment by saying they are willing to
defend them militarily for u.s. troops to be involved in that military response? sec. austin: i think the president was clear on the fact the policy has not changed. reporter: general milley, can you walk us through the potential risks that would be a part of u.s. military defense of taiwan should china invade? gen. milley: i will not do that. i appreciate the opportunity to not answer a question. [laughter] there is a variety of contingency plans we hold. all of them are highly classified. pacific, europe, and elsewhere. it would be very inappropriate for me to discuss the risks associated with those plans relative to anything with respect to taiwan. or anywhere else in the pacific. reporter: i will give you the opportunity to not answer one more question. would you support sending troops to taiwan? gen. milley: i would render my advice at that moment of time to the president and the secretary of defense. sec. austin: felicia?
reporter: i am over here. thanks. going back, if you do send them, would you be ok with those weapons being used to push russian forces out of crimea and the donbas? how important is it to reopen ukrainian ports in the black sea and what is the u.s. doing to help? sec. austin: again, as i said earlier, i will not get involved in discussing any specific requirements and how we will address those requirements. we do not have any announcements to make in that regard. i will also not entertain that hypothetical. gen. milley: on the port, i think you are talking about odesa.
it is a major port for ukraine and it becomes a significant vehicle by which grain is exported and other commodities come out of ukraine. ukraine is one of the largest grain producers in the world and thus far because of the russian fleet, because of the risks associated with it, that has not happened going almost 90 days. it is quite important to the economy of ukraine and well beyond. many countries in the world depend on ukrainian grain. that is an example of the importance of it. as for what we are doing, right now we do not have any u.s. naval vessels in the black sea, we do not intend to unless directed. right now it is a bit of a stalemate between the ukrainians wanting to make sure there is not any amphibious landing against odessa. right now it is a no go zone for
commercial shipping. what that will be in the future is unknown, but it is important access to the sea. reporter: general petraeus famously said of the iraq war, tell me how this ends. with the ukraine war, how does this end? is it pushing the russians completely out of ukraine as the british foreign secretary said? or is it somewhere in the middle? sec. austin: our effort is to do everything we can to strengthen ukraine's hands on the battlefield and also at the negotiation table. we will stick with doing everything we can to make sure they achieve their objectives. at the end of the day, what this looks like will be defined by the ukrainians and not by us. we will leave that up to
president zelenskyy to talk about how this transitions. gen. milley: i would echo exactly what he says. the end state is defined by the political leadership. in this case president zelenskyy will define the end state and the boundaries of ukraine. we want to make sure nato is unified and uphold the concept there is a rules-based international order and the powerful and the big cannot destroy and invade the week and the small. reporter: if it were not for the u.s. and nato the zelenskyy government cannot exist. does nato have a voice in this effort about how this ends? this could go on for years. sec. austin: i stand by what i said earlier. the way this transitions will be
defined by the ukrainian people. reporter: if they say we want all russians out of our country, would you abide by that? sec. austin: what we will abide by is what our president decides we will do going forward. that will be a policy decision. i think this is ukraine's fight, it is not the united states fight. we are doing everything we can to make sure we are supporting them in their effort to defend their sovereign territory. the rest of the international community is doing the same. since it is their fight, it is their country, we want to make sure they have the safe zone in terms of what the end state looks like. reporter: thank you, chairman. on ukraine, what is your
assessment on whether vladimir putin has shifted his goals from inside ukraine to outside ukraine? instead of trying to take kyiv by force, to what extent has he shifted and is now trying to use energy, grain, immigration as economic tools to undermine europe's strategic stability? is that the long game? sec. austin: it is hard to say and i will not speculate what is going on in putin's mind, but we have seen him use a number of different levers from the very beginning. at the very outset he envisioned using overwhelming force and speed and power to rapidly take down the capital city and replace the government. they failed in that respect in their forces were pushed back by the ukrainians. they took kharkiv for a short time. ukrainians counterattacked and
took kharkiv back. we have seen them proceed at a very slow and unsuccessful pace on the battlefield. you would expect he would seek to use other levers of power or other instruments of power, and he is doing that. in terms of his overall strategy, that is unknown. i would say one of the things he could do is end this fight today. you've heard me say that a couple of times. this is a war of putin's choice, not a war of necessity. we continue to encourage him to do that. >> thanks, everybody.
>> c-span has unfiltered coverage of the response to russia's invasion of ukraine. the latest from the white house, the pentagon, and the state department as well as congress who also has international perspectives from the united nations and statements from foreign leaders all on the c-span networks, the c-span no free mobile app, and c-span.org/ukraine. you can watch the latest videos on demand and follow tweets from journalists on the ground
ukraine's president volodymyr zelenskyy is calling for additional sanctions against russia. he made the request while speaking virtually to the world economic forum in dabo's, switzerland -- davos, swi tzerland. >> ladies and gentlemen, it's a great pleasure to welcome to this opening session let a mere silence, the president of ukraine. tomorrow marks three months when on the 24th of february, russia began an unprovoked and unnecessary war against ukraine. an act which is cost thousands of lives has